Electrical – How to mount a security camera on the outside of the house


I'm tasked with mounting a security camera on the outside of the house and I'm not sure what would be the right way to do this. There are two basic problems: how to mount the thing and how to run the power cable (the camera is using a low-voltage power adapter). The way I see it, my options are as follows:

  • Use outdoors power outlet. This might be the easiest option (there is an outlet nearby) but it's not ideal: not only the cable would be hanging outdoors, but it is also too short to reach the outlet, so I'll end up with an ugly contraption of a power adapter and an extension cord – all dangling outside open to the elements.

  • Drill the wall (the house is "typical" wooden frame with insulation and vinyl siding). I've never drilled the outside walls, so I'd appreciate some advice here. Obviously, I'd like to avoid messing up the wall interior and thermal insulation of the house by doing it wrong.

  • Run it through the soffit/under the roof – no idea if it's feasible at all.

  • Run it between the door and door frame – again the concerns are shorting the cable and messing with thermal insulation by leaving some gap.

The other question is specifically about mounting the camera to the outside wall. What would be the right way to attach it to the vinyl siding. Is it something that would require drilling through the wall or there is a way to do it in a less invasive manner?

Best Answer

Outdoor Power - Do not power the camera using an outdoor outlet. You have all the problems you listed and you make the system more susceptible to tampering (an intruder can simply unplug the camera and blind the system).

Powering the camera - Let's begin by checking if the camera and its power supply is rated for outdoor use. The exposure to moisture, and to a lesser degree extreme temperature, makes many indoor units unsuitable. The connection of the power supply to the camera needs to be water resistant. If it is not, you need to consider a different camera unit.

In general, outdoor power lines need special cable or a metal or plastic pipe to protect the cable. The power to the unit is apparently low voltage, so it may not need the same level of protection as it would if it were 120 volts.

You will need to bring the wire through the wall (or through a soffit) at some point. You want to drill through an area that DOES NOT contain framing. You will go through siding, sheathing, probably insulation, and then finish material, probably drywall.

The main issue is sealing the entry holes from water and air infiltration. This can be done on the outside using a good outdoor caulk.

On the inside, you can use a low voltage junction box to protect the wire and then route it to an outlet. The best approach might be to run the wire to a double box, low voltage on one side and line voltage on the other.

dual voltage box

You could then have the wire exit the front of the low voltage side and have the transformer plug into the line voltage side.

Mounting Camera - Most modern cameras (at least those without heavy housings or motor mounts) are fairly light, just a few pounds, if that. They can be screwed into the sheaving of the wall, which is located beneath the vinyl siding. You need to drill through the siding and into the sheathing and then screw the base to the sheathing. As you are mounting, you can seal the screw holes and even the base of the camera with outdoor caulk.

If the camera is heavy, you should screw the camera to a framing member (stud). These are found at corners, regularly spaced horizontally (usually every 16 inches from a corner), and near the roof and floor line of each level. You can use a stud finder to locate them.